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Tours, Trains and More in Downtown Chatsworth-Second Saturday in April
The Chatsworth Depot and The Wright Hotel, located at the corner of Market Street and First Avenue in downtown Chatsworth were important local gathering places back when the City was established in the early 20th Century. The Whitfield-Murray Historical Society hopes to bring back those days with its annual “Second Saturday” events at these historic venues.
The 2019 “Second Saturday” season gets underway on April 13 when the popular model train expo that delights visitors of all ages returns to the Depot. Highlights include live steam model trains, an outdoor model sponsored by the Georgia Garden Railroad Society (weather permitting), a model that kids can operate, a train installation train van with push button sounds, and other model trains as well as vendors selling models, accessories, and railroad themed clothing for kids and adults. Chatsworth Ford continues to sponsor the day and there is no admission charged for the event which will be open from noon until 5 p.m.
For many years travelers on the original Louisville and Nashville Railroad through Chatsworth could spend the night at The Wright Hotel. This National Register Historic Site was constructed in 1909 and operated into the 1960’s. This three-story structure will be open for tours as well. The building features period furnishings along with exhibits about early Murray County history.
On display for the first time will be a collection of artifacts and photographs from the famous “Rock Building”, the original home of Murray County High School. Celebrating its 85th year in 2019, the wonderful old building was gutted by fire a few years ago and underwent an award winning restoration to become the administrative center of the Murray County School System. Among the items on display will be class rings, diplomas, and even pieces of old lockers complete with the user’s name. Visit and learn how these remnants managed to survive the flames and also see a “new” selection of hand tufted and chenille bedspreads from the historical society’s growing collection of locally made textiles. These tours are also free and begin at noon. The last tour begins at 4:15.
In 1904 the Louisville and Nashville railroad system ran from Cincinnati, Ohio to Etowah, Tennessee. In order to complete a direct line to Atlanta, the L&N railroad system began laying tracks from Etowah south. In 1905, tracks were laid through Murray County. The Chatsworth Depot, now located adjacent to the Wright Hotel, was built along the tracks during this period. It contained a waiting room, an agent's office, an express baggage room, and a freight room. The L&N Railroad employed many Murray County residents, and trains would stop daily to transport residents traveling to and from Cartersville and other points. President Franklin D. Roosevelt once spent a night in his private car at the depot on his way to Warm Springs, where he went for polio therapy. The depot is the oldest public building in Chatsworth.
The restored depot currently houses two museums: one chronicles the growth of the local talc industry; the other documents more than a century of railroad service in Murray County.
The Talc Museum contains a collection of historical information and artifacts relating to the talc industry in Murray County, including maps, documents, photographs, news articles, tools and special equipment.
The Railroad Museum concentrates on passenger and freight service through Murray County. Original items from several Murray County depots are on display along with an extensive display of tools, equipment, documents, and photographs related railroad history. A G-Scale model railroad and a HO-Scale model railroad are both operable and located in the depot.
A 1960 Seaboard Coast Line caboose is also on display on the grounds of the Depot Museum.
Friends of the Chatsworth Depot
The depot has had the exterior recently restored thanks to a grant obtained by the City of Chatsworth. Past grants from Lowe’s and donations from area businesses and residents have allowed for the exterior of the caboose to be restored and pending financial resources, work on the interior restoration is in progress. Some of the caboose restoration has been done by the local high school construction club, giving the students some real-life experiences while helping to develop their appreciation of history.
Today, the Depot is again a busy place. The second Saturday of April each year the depot hosts a ‘Model Train Expo’ with model trains operating inside and outside the building while displaying the work of area model railroad groups. May through August will find visitors coming to music concerts on the second Saturday of each month. The third weekend of October the depot opens for the local Black Bear Festival with special displays. Tours are always available when the depot is open for these events. A highlight each year is the Polar Express where model trains run in winter scenes and the story is read by a local retired educator as the children enjoy refreshments. More info and updates can be found on the Facebook page, so be sure to look up the depot and like the page to keep up to date on all the events.
The Chatsworth Depot, originally on the L & N Railroad, has been moved a block from its original location behind the Wright Hotel.
The Caboose and Depot are located adjacent to the Wright Hotel
Our caboose before restoration
Photos from Past Music Events at Chatsworth Depot!